President Duterte is prepared to withdraw an executive order on the temporary reduction of import tariffs of pork products once the domestic supply improves.
In a televised address Monday, the President explained that he understood the sentiment of the senators opposed to the tariff cut on imported pork, adding it would be “easy” to recall his order.
But for now, Duterte insisted that the lower tariff regime was just a temporary measure necessary to augment local pork supply and bring down the prices in the country.
“Kung medyo malakas na ‘yung domestic market (Once the domestic market becomes stronger) and there is a movement, madali naman (it’s easy), we can always withdraw the EO that I signed,” he said.
“Madali naman ‘yan (That’s easy). It’s just a temporary measure really to bring down the prices but the senators see it in a different light,” he added.
The Senate Committee of the Whole recently adopted a resolution urging the President to withdraw EO 128 on the temporary reduction of rates of import duty for pork products for a year. The senators are concerned that the lower tariffs might kill the local hog industry.
Under EO 128 signed last April 7, the import tariff for fresh, chilled or frozen pork will be lowered to 5 percent from 30 percent under the minimum access volume (MAV) quota for the next three months. The rate will be adjusted to 10 percent in the next nine months. After 12 months, it will return to the 30 percent tariff rate.
On pork imports beyond the quota, the tariff rate will be cut to 15 percent from 40 percent for the first three months. It will be raised to 20 percent in the next nine months. The rate will be back to 40 percent after a year.
The President’s decision on lower tariff rates came days after asking Congress to increase the MAV for pork imports this year by 350,000 metric tons.
In his remarks Monday, the President recognized that senators wanted to protect the local hog raisers but asserted that his economic managers were “really in favor” of lower import tariffs on pork to stabilize domestic prices.
“I can understand from where the senators come from. There is also the domestic supply which they intend to protect. They are vehement about it. I think they think that they are right,” he said.
“I know they are insisting to it while we, the managers of, mga managers ng department ko, kami nag-implement, we implement certain measures that will redound to the benefit of the people,” he added.
In the meeting with the President, acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua defended the temporary lower tariffs on imported pork, saying it would help reduce food prices and keep the supply affordable.
If hog supply would be augmented with imports, Chua said they project a decline in inflation by around 0.4 percentage points, or from 4.2 percent down to 3.8 percent.
He noted that local pork prices averaged P288 per kilo and reached as high as P327 pesos per kilo in Metro Manila. Before the supply shortage, the local pork prices were stable at around P224 per kilo. Chua said they hope local prices will return to this price level.